Fukukshima aftermath, August 2014

Three and a half years later, the Fukushima accident shows no signs of ending.

Three and a half years later, the Fukushima accident shows no signs of ending.

Three and a half years after the onset of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, its ramifications continue to reverberate across the world, but as one would expect, especially in Japan.

A quick roundup of some recent Fukushima-related news:

Two Japanese economists released their study this week showing that financial costs of the accident are now at 11 trillion Yen, or about $106 billion. That’s about twice previous government estimates.

But even that understates the real eventual cost. According to the Japan Times, their study, for example, “does not include costs for the final disposal of radioactive material from cleanup work, while the compensation and plant decommissioning expenses are expected to increase down the road. A separate estimate puts the cost of decontamination work as high as ¥5 trillion, double the professors’ figure.”

The eventual amount of compensation to victims of the accident remains unknown and is dependent on a number of factors–for example, how many cancer cases actually occur that can be traced to the accident.

And a Japanese court decision this week could also increase compensation costs. The court ruled that Fukushima owner Tepco is liable for the suicide of a woman evacuated from her home and ordered $472,000 in compensation to her husband.

The government estimates that 1500 people in the Fukushima region have committed suicide since the accident. 50 of those are said to be directly related to the accident and its aftermath, but the actual number may be far higher. The court’s ruling opens the doors to many more compensation claims from the families of suicide victims.

Meanwhile, the government and the nuclear utilities remain stymied in their efforts to restart some of Japan’s shuttered reactors.

As Bloomberg reports today, the problem is that pesky thing known as public opinion. The public remains solidly against nuclear power and restart of any reactors, and it continues to make that clear through protests, legal actions and other means.

Even major Japanese companies–which have been portrayed in the western media as actively supporting restart–aren’t enthusiastic about the idea. Only 40% of the major companies based in the region near the Sendai reactors, which the government hopes will be the first to restart, support operation of those reactors.

One reason the public, and the companies, continue to oppose restart and nuclear power generally: the Fukushima accident just doesn’t end.

SimplyInfo.org reports today that literally billions of bequerels of radioactivity continue to be released, mostly into water, from Fukushima every day. That’s right. Every. Single. Day.

Michael Mariotte

August 27, 2014

Permalink: https://safeenergy.org/2014/08/27/fukukshima-aftermath-august-2014/

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3 thoughts on “Fukukshima aftermath, August 2014

  1. Calamity Jean

    How does the cost of the cleanup compare with the value of the electricity produced by the Fukushima reactors from they time they started production to the date of the accident?

    On a related note, is there any data comparing the cost of a reactor that has actually been fully decommissioned to the value of the electricity it produced during its lifetime?

    1. Michael Mariotte Post author

      Those are both great questions! And it would be great to get some answers. We have not seen any statistics related to the first question, although since no power plants of any kind produce $100 billion worth of electricity during their lifetimes, it is clear that the cost of the accident far exceeds the value of the electricity produced. But it would be good to get some real numbers behind that.

      The second question is a similar issue. The data should be there; but we haven’t seen it put together in that form. We would expect that comparison to vary widely by reactor, since reactors have had different capacity factors and different costs. There were some studies done about 30 years or so ago that predicted the cradle to grave cost of a reactor (construction through waste disposal) would exceed the value of its electricity, but those were hypotheticals. There should now be enough data for reactors like Trojan, Rancho Seco, Zion, etc. to get a better picture (even though some final decommissioning costs, and most waste disposal costs, are still unknown).

  2. Jo Kirkpatrick

    Thanks for posting about the Fukushima/Daiichi reactors fiasco. However, you left one important fact out of your final sentence when you say that “literally billions of bequerels of radioactivity continue to be released, mostly into water, from Fukushima every day. That’s right. Every. Single. Day.” Not just released mostly into water: these billions of bequerels are being released mostly into the Ocean off Japan. The Pacific Ocean is being contaminated by radioisotopes at volumes worse than the nuclear bomb tests, worse than any contamination from the Chernobyl accident, slowly but surely.
    So far TEPCO wrings their hands and say there is nothing they can do to stop it. They may very well be right.


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